If you have Covid-19, simply breathing or talking can release tiny particles that keep the virus airborne for hours and infect others.
That’s part of the alarming new guidelines issued this week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — which ironically came two weeks after the agency itself took down a similar statement about transmission of the coronavirus. But this time, the CDC has replaced it with language citing new evidence that the virus can spread beyond 6 feet indoors.
What does that mean for everyone trying to carry on with their lives in the shadow of the pandemic?
In light of the evidence and latest instructions, we all have no responsible choice but to continue to socially distance, wear masks when among others, and avoid large indoor or outdoor gatherings. With the world surpassing a million deaths from the resilient virus, people must keep their guard up at all times.
The best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is still to wear a mask, maintain social distance, practice proper hand hygiene and avoid large gatherings as much as possible. It is critical to remember that indoor gatherings with people — especially in places that are not well ventilated — always increases your risk of infection and is best avoided.
In the UAE, these precautions are already part of the rigorous protocols in place for people and businesses — and we must continue to abide strictly by the simple and practical regulations to protect our communities.
But at the global level, it’s time for science and not politics to lead the way in battling this pandemic.
Baffling scientific judgements
The CDC guidelines are only the latest in a series of baffling scientific judgements by health watchdogs since the start of the pandemic. Despite evidence that face-masks can drastically reduce the spread of the virus, for example, the CDC did not endorse their use until early April. The World Health Organisation too got off to a late start — and managed to recommend the use of face masks on a global scale only in June.
But that was all in the past. As our understanding of the virus grows, the new guidelines can serve as a template for taking more precautions. The CDC is amply clear about the dangers of social interaction: In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. In light of the evidence and latest instructions, we all have no responsible choice but to continue to socially distance, wear masks when among others, and avoid large indoor or outdoor gatherings. With the world surpassing a million deaths from the resilient virus, people must keep their guard up at all times.